Brent Council ordered to apologise and pay wheelchair user £27,000

Brent Civic Centre

Brent Civic Centre - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

A wheelchair user who was forced to crawl up his stairs to reach the toilet for eight years will receive thousands in compensation from Brent Council.

The council has been ordered to pay £27,000 and issue an apology to the resident, referred to as Mr X, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) confirmed. 

His family said he found it “humiliating” and “frustrating” to struggle up the stairs every day while there was not enough space for him to carry out pain easing exercises. 

He was initially carried up to the top floor but, as he became older and too heavy, had to inch his way there by himself. 

Mr X’s family said: “It has been very difficult for the whole family. My son has found the lack of independence in his daily living humiliating and frustrating. 

“Climbing or crawling up the stairs is painful for him and we were particularly upset that he did not have space to do the exercises recommended by his physiotherapist when he was recovering from surgery.  

“We will use the money to buy a better wheelchair and make his life better. Sadly, he will have to wait until we have permanent accommodation because there is no space for a wheelchair in our temporary accommodation.”

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The ombudsman found the temporary accommodation offered by Brent Council was unsuitable given Mr X’s disability. 

His representatives at the Harrow Law Centre said it hopes this will set a precedent to ensure people in similar situations do not suffer in the way their client has. 

The law centre director Pamela Fitzpatrick said: “Despite this unprecedented award by the Ombudsman our clients are still waiting for suitable permanent accommodation.   

“We do hope Brent will now move swiftly to identify suitable accommodation. However, this is not an isolated case.  

“Thousands of families are forced to live in unsuitable accommodation across the whole of London because more and more families who need housing are placed in the private sector rather than in council homes. 

“Invariably the private sector properties are of very poor quality but because of the housing crisis demand exorbitant rents.  

“This case highlights the severe lack of council housing and in particular, adapted accommodation.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “Finding suitable accommodation for this family is our number one priority.

“We are sorry it’s taking longer than we’d like. In this case, a suitable property means finding a four-bedroom home in Brent with level access on the ground floor for a wheelchair and disabled parking.

“Despite the housing shortage in London, we’ve found a property in the borough that can be adapted for wheelchair use and we’re waiting to see if the property also offers disabled parking.

“The difficulty we have had in finding this family a suitable place to live is, sadly, symptomatic of the chronic shortage of larger, adaptable properties across London.

“For a long time, councils were not able to access the funding to build new homes and a prolonged period of funding cuts and rising cost of living has made finding a suitable, affordable home in Brent impossible for many families.

“We’re determined to take every opportunity to increase the supply of these larger, adaptable properties and our own council house building programme is geared towards this as much as possible.

“In Brent, we have an ambitious house building programme, which will see the delivery of 1,700 new council homes by 2028 and 4,000 affordable homes in the borough over the next five years.

“We want all families to be able to find a suitable place to live in our borough.”

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